WNBA: Lynx picks Ellensburg’s Standish

SPOKANE, Wash. — Who won the Women’s National Basketball Association draft? Gonzaga knows.

Bulldog forwards Kayla Standish and Katelan Redmon were both selected Monday to play at the next level, and Standish says it was their coaches who helped bring them there.

“I think the coach staff let me show my versatility,” said Ellenburg’s Standish, who was chosen midway through the second round, and 19th overall, by the defending WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx.

Gonzaga's Kayla Standish in action against Rutgers in the second half of an NCAA tournament first-round women's college basketball game Saturday, March 17, 2012, in Spokane, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

“Our posts are interchangeable, so we have free rein to what we could do, Katelan and me.”

That would be Katelan Redmon, who was chosen with the final pick of the draft by the New York Liberty.

In one afternoon, the Gonzaga program doubled its contribution to the pro game.

“It is amazing to have had a player drafted three straight years.” Gonzaga coach Kelly Graves, who joined Standish at the draft, held at ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn. “That doesn’t happen often, anywhere, so I am thrilled. Our program is coming of age.”

Standish joins former Zags Courtney Vandersloot and Vivian Frieson as players who have been drafted into the WNBA. Vandersloot, in her second year in the league, was the third overall draft pick by the Chicago Sky in 2011. Frieson was Gonzaga’s inaugural player drafted, going 31st to the Tulsa Shock in the 2010 draft.

Now comes the hard part – leaving.

“We start camp next week,” said Standish, “so I’m packing up and leaving Spokane sooner than I thought.”

And while Standish’s final draft slot was “not exactly what I’d heard, I could have been picked last and be happy to just be picked.”

Standish, a 6-foot-2 forward, averaged a team-high 16.4 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks last year as the Bulldogs reached the Sweet 16. She was also named to the all-West Coast Conference first team.

“I am thrilled for Kayla,” Graves said. “I think she is a player that has worked hard and improved and for her to be rewarded by being drafted is phenomenal. I believe her best basketball is ahead of her and I wouldn’t be surprised if she surprises people as she moves forward. Kayla has so much to give to a team.”

And while playing for the best team in the league “is a little intimidating,” Standish said she feels that she can offer the Lynx a lot of versatility on offense.

The Lynx are loaded with talent, even more so after picking up six players in Monday’s draft. “But if I have a good camp, I’ll have a good chance of making the team,” Standish said.

Her biggest goal? Playing better defense, “because the WCC hasn’t had a lot of big post players to defend.” Standish will get her chance right away in camp against Maya Moore, last year’s WNBA Rookie of the Year.

Redmon will also join a winner; the Liberty went 19-15 and reached the playoffs last year.

Redmon, a 6-foot-1 forward transfer from Washington who played at Lewis and Clark High School, averaged 13.4 points and 5.8 rebounds last year for the Zags. Her 81.3 percent free-throw shotting was tops on the team.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled for Katelan,” Graves said. “She has worked hard and I can see her going and winning a spot. She is impressive. The WNBA is the type of game that is right up her alley.”

The WNBA season begins May 18.

- Jim Allen